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  • Alaska to South America: Two Moto Kiwis (page 22)

Alaska to South America: Two Moto Kiwis (page 22)

On arriving at Jasper it was approx 32 deg c ... hot!

We found the restaurant where Mel from Fort St James friend worked, we had a light lunch and coffee and left our riot gear there, I wanted a belt for my shorts and discovered the totally groovy Moose beanies so I had to have one.

Later on in the afternoon we rode up to Pyramid Lake where Ellen had a swim and I sat down in the sun and relaxed....just hard work.

From there we went to Meligne Lake park, we were greeted by black bears, sheep with rolly horns, Elk, Deer etc so pretty neat to see the wildlife up close. We wanted to travel in the evening as it was cooler and it turned out to be the better viewing time.

Electric Psycho sheep and Ellen creeping up quietly.
Bear just strolling along, he just kind walked past lifted his nose and said "chur bro" then carried on.
Lake Meligne.
Sunset pics, about 10.00pm at night.

The park ride we finished at around 10.30pm so we went to Snaring River camp for the night, it was 11.00pm when we arrived and set up.

In the morning we discovered that we had set up in a mozzie party zone and they were extremely hungry, Ellen said let's just pack up and have breaky at the Meligne Canyon, after 30 seconds for me standing outside and getting about as many bites it was not a hard decision.

Meligne canyon is great, really neat waterfalls and canyon and comes highly recommended, it was very hot when we were there so again it was a treat.

From the canyon we headed to Edmonton to catch up with Dickie and Elaine, see separate sub report for for this.

Alaska Sum Up and the Heart Speaks

This section of our RR Diary is the open heart part, not necessarily the bit everyone wants to read but we are normal people (well Ellen is) living our life on the road, you see the glamorous pictures and fine weather.

But the camera doesn't usually come out in the heavy rain or the hard winds and it never turns up while having a chat over navigational differences as the camera quite simply does not convey that emotion unless you have a professional cameraman and a hollywood set right at hand .... we don't.

So please realize there is some heart content in here, good and bad, so no photos in this one, just a big read for those who want to.

For the rest of you shallow buggers like me who can't be assed reading and a picture is worth a thousand words you will be treated in the next installment of Two Lucky Kiwis.


How Andi Sees it

Highlights Non-Motorcycle

The people, first off the people who made us very welcomed and gave as great information and help along the way, something that when you are on the road makes your day, something you don’t really appreciate until you don’t have a home.

We find ourselves comparing Wanaka were we live in New Zealand, a good and bad thing to do in some ways but people always compare what they had to what they have, we are human too ... or at least Ellen is.

Alaska all over, pretty cool on the groovy meter.

Snow, views, grandeur, wildlife.

Cost, mostly way cheaper than NZ.

Selection (except metric bolts) is huge across the board, it is not “do you have one” it is “how many colours do you have it in”

I know there are many more but simply can’t remember every one of them, acid test, would I come back to Alaska again? ... HELL YEAH!!


Lows Non-Motorcycle

Ellen not riding a little more in NZ to up skill and practice on my bike at home without house and contents on board, once loaded (and we are not heavily loaded) they are more difficult to manouver.

This has created 10 fold more work for me, I expect her to drop it now and then with off camber ground and that is motorcycling but many falls could easily have been avoided and not caused trouble, my main concern is against the odds Ellen is using up her “avoiding injury” credits fairly quickly, the bike will take it and can be fixed easily, she can’t.

American excess, everyone drives a huge V8 pickup, SUV etc, even mums picking up groceries at the supermarket have a monster truck. In New Zealand a V8 is wow, here they are everywhere ... so Americans... don’t want to hear any of you fellas grizzling about the cost of fuel while looking at what you drive!! 8-)

I qualify this by saying we understand if it is a towing vehicle or commercial unit where size and power is needed but for some bread and eggs.....

Rice and Asian food ingredients, way more expensive than NZ

Our ipad, 4 weeks old and some oxygen thief flogged it from under our noses in the University Of Fairbanks Library, makes you mad but it is only a material thing that can be replaced.


Motorcycle Highlights

If you want to organize things or get sorted in Alaska on the motorcycle side then Alaska Leather are the only words you will need, see Barb and you know it will be done and done right, thanks to Barb and her team.

The roads, not as twisty as NZ, a lot better condition across the board, big distances in miles caught us out a few times, gotta remember to x 1.6 8-) but all roads have been great even at 32 degrees F with rain.

Challenging and winning with the Dalton, we had everything thrown at us which kept the level of entertainment up, it made for hard times and good so everything an adventure should be.

Bezzer and Greg for helping with Ellens side stand while we got her high settings sorted, you guys are Honorary Kiwis.

Me, going to give myself props as our luggage and bike setup has come up trumps and is working very well for us, our bikes may not be sprayed with glossy touratech stuff and look “coul” but we have narrow luggage with low windage and some groovy crash bars which have paid their way, we have room to spare for bits and pieces.

All in all very happy with the setup and tuning Ellen’s height issues as we go (now sorted as at writing this ..YAY)


Motorcycle Lows

My bike which was running like shit from day one was disappointing then to top it off I made it my problem to try and fix cos I didn’t want to whinge, I should have given it straight back to the stealership day one and said sort it rather than try and sort it myself, remember these bikes were brand new.

So, if you want a meaningless argument with unhelpful people and poor service, be talked down to and to be treated like an idiot we highly recommend Alaska Cycle Centre, sorry guys but the way we were treated and the run around you gave us this is a good as I would give you, in fact you still have the warrantee speedo cable clip for Ellen’s bike that was never on the bike and you wanted to charge us for!!!, despite our calls to get it we still don’t have it, I don’t like dissing down on things but after all this time on the road you guys are still worth a mention for other riders to consider and choose when they get to Alaska and more so Anchorage ..shame on you!!!

It took Barb ringing Alaska Cycle Centre and issuing harsh words to the owner to get us sorted, it should not have to come to that, once again Alaska Leather (Barb and crew) with their positive attitude towards getting things sorted out come out shining.


How Ellen sees it

Low Points

It was our last day in Alaska, June 19th 2012, tomorrow we will head to Dawson City The trip is lot harder than I anticipated. I knew it was going to be tough, but don’t know how tough it going to get.

First, the weather. Although we started in late May, hoping that the weather was going to be warmish - wrong. We had snow almost every trip we went on. Not just snow, also the wind and rain. The first trip from Anchorage to Homer was hard enough for me to say: “If the rest of our adventure like this, I’m going home.”

Second, road condition. I have to say the Alaska roads are mostly nice, wide and smooth, less twisty than NZ road. They also have lots of signs to warn you: gravel, road work, dip, road damage. You won’t get too many surprises. However, the road works made the road very hard, specially for our motorcycles. They are also very long. In NZ, we have road work for a few hundred meters, here in Alaska, they have it from a few Ks, the longest one we had was nearly 40ks.

Third, my riding. I didn’t do much riding before the trip. I was scared to fall which will destroy our trip. I was hoping when I start to ride, I will pick it up quickly - wrong again. I should have done more practice, doing figure of 8 and turning, stopping and starting.

For the first few weeks of riding, my turning and stopping was terrible, I can’t turn around. It has caused a lot frustration especially on a busy road. Andi blames me for not listening, he had told me what to do when turning and stopping, I seemed not to master what he thought it’s a simple task. On top of that, my bike is still a little too high for me, I am still on tip toes when stopped, that has meant that Chiwi dropped many times on my stops.

The Denali Highway trip, almost turned Two Moto Kiwis to One Moto Kiwi.

It was our last day in Alaska, June 19th 2012, the next day we would head to Dawson City. The trip is lot harder than I participated. I knew it was going to be tough, but don’t know how tough it was going to get.

What happened was Andi saw two cyclists, one who had a flatty and they were on the side of the road, Andi stopped to ask if they need any help. I was following far behind so in theory I should be able to stop safely no problem. But I applied my rear brake a bit late, not dear to touch the front brake in fears of sliding on gravel road, then my front wheel just touched his bike wheel, I dropped the bike again.

I hated every time I dropped the bike, and Andi was taking a picture of it doesn’t make it better either. I was furious, so I shouted to him why did he stop. He helped me pick up the bike and took off. Left the two cyclists stunned. I was still angry, but have to concentrate on the road.

After about an hour later, I saw Andi pulled over on the road side. I pulled over and he started his serous talk with me. He said: “Tok, or ticket home”, you choose. If you are going home, there will be no Two Moto Kiwis and no Andi and Ellen ANYMORE.” He went on about the ipad and I nearly lost the laptop case in the morning, plus my riding has frustrated him as every time I drop my bike he has to help which increases his work x 4. He is supposed to enjoy his life time travel, but at the moment, he doesn’t. My shot at him in the public just tipped him over.

I started crying, I know I have been very bitchy in the last few days. I have behaved not the normal “Ellen”, I know that. On my side of the story I have hurt my elbow when we cleaned the garden before we left. Its been haunting me every day now. My fitness has dropped since we started the trip, not enough regular exercise which used to make me happy. I admit, it’s not Andi’s fault, and I blamed him and at worst, in public. I apologized.

But I’m not going to give it up. I have been putting up with lots of harsh conditions, inconvenience, discomfort, put myself out of comfort zone for this trip but it was my idea to get my license and do the trip together after talking with other female adventure riders.

We have met great people here and have seen lots of nice scenery. Lots of people have told us a trip like this has broken up a few couples. I will prove this is wrong as so far with our difficulties taking us to the edge and back we are stronger now. Sorry Andi, please forgive me, if I hurt you, I didn’t mean it. I promise to practice my ride and get my skills upgrade quickly.


High Points

Anchorage: Mark flew us over the glacier, Andi even flew airplane on the way back for a while. Tom took us on his hover craft over Lake George

Homer: when we got through wind, rain, snow and hale, Homer welcomed us with brilliant sun shine and a moose wondering in the front yard and our host Charlie who was second to none.

Valdez: I saw a brown bear while jogging outside the camping ground, the good point was he ran away and I went back to campsite safely.

Fairbanks: Soak in Chena hot springs

Prudhoe Bay (Deadhorse): Rode Dalton highway successfully; Dip toes in the Arctic Ocean; Saw caribou on the road; Grizzly bear with her cub

Impression of Alaska

Language: Guess what, with strong South Island accent, people understand my “Chinglish” better than Andi’s NZ English. I have been translating his “ NZ English” into “proper English.” Still, there are lots of differences, here are some examples (NZ English is in front):

petrol - gas; rubbish - trash; tea - dinner or supper; herb - erb (American do not pronounce H); bum bag - fanny pack; Bloody Mozzies - Damn Skeeters.

Camping difference: Their camping ground is huge but more set up for RV - hard stony ground rather than grassy for a tent. So far we have broken five pegs and bent a few more. You pay camping fees by site not by person - makes single travel more expensive. Less facilities compareed to NZ camping, you pay $20 with no shower or kitchen. But every site will have a picnic table and fire pit. You can buy or bring your own fire wood.

Author of this article: Twomotokiwis